Basic strategy of Omaha game
Omaha is a difficult but at the same time interesting and profitable game. You can play thousands of hands, but without the right practice, you will do yourself more harm than good.
It is very simple to observe the professionals’ PLO-poker (pot-limit Omaha) game and to delve into the swing of things on the basis of their game. But the thing is that professionals have invested a lot of time in Omaha and Omaha poker strategy and they know when to break the rules and when not, when to follow the reads and when to take the risks.
When you are only a beginner it's not enough just to listen to your intuition. There is a definite tactic of playing Omaha poker, which you need to stick to in order for the game to become profitable. When you reach the level of "stable winner" and play thousands of hands, then you can start to break the rules and master your skills. Until then, we offer to get familiarize with the 5 main strategy rules of PLO game.
Note: it is also important to understand that there are different types of Omaha, that's why there are also different strategies: omaha hi lo strategy, plo strategy, omaha 8 strategy and so on.
1. Play on basis of your bankroll
If you are not ready to become bankrupt, then don’t chase the expensive games just because they look attractive. Omaha is a dispersive game, thus you must have at least 50 buy-ins for your limit. This means that you can handle the dispersion, which will definitely be in this game, with no fear of losing your entire bankroll.
2. Consider the odds
It's odds that make poker a profitable game. You can win in poker because you decide when to invest money in the pot. If you accept + EV decisions and avoid -EV decisions, then you will always be able to make money at a distance. It's very easy to get into the game and follow intuition but it's not a winning way. The only winning way is math. Just know your odds and play accordingly.
3. Play tight and collect the nuts
If you are a beginner in Pot-Limit Omaha, then there is no point to play the way the professionals do. There will come a time when you become a stable winner and until then you will simply put yourself into difficult situations where you will start making mistakes and losing money. Play tight and collect the nuts.
4. Don’t get attached to Aces
Aces are good. But if you have to play them on the post-flop, then do it calmly. Omaha is a game where pairs rarely win at the showdown. Even if your Aces form the best hand, it’s often very difficult to hold them up to the showdown.
If you have Aces, then it's better to have such cards as A ♥ A ♦ J ♥ T ♦. In other words, Aces are needed to be combined with something that can form a combination. Otherwise, you will let your opponents play against you perfectly.
5. Control your emotions
Omaha is an even more dispersive game than Hold'em. You have to remain calm when facing an extreme dispersion. If you easily fall into tilt, then this game is not for you. If you lose control of emotions, then you lose an opportunity to make winning decisions.
If you got a bad-beat, then you have to be able to step back and realize that you can fall into tilt. If you don’t control the emotions, then you need to finish the game and take a break. Control yourself, because winning poker is your №1 goal.
Stick to these rules, because you need to make more + EV bets than –EV bets. You need to understand what is profitable and what is not. It's complicated. But you have to analyze the players, board, your hands, odds, almost everything.
It takes time and practice but if you handle it, then the game will reward you both morally and financially.
Let's consider an example
Suppose you have a starting hand like T♠ 9♠ 8♥ 7♦. On the flop, you see something like T♥ 8♠ K♠. So, you have two pairs, a straight draw, and a flush draw.
In Omaha poker, your low two pairs are usually considered garbage. Someone can easily have two higher pairs, like K-T (or even a set). Therefore, if you are lucky enough to catch one of your four outs to a full house, it is likely that someone will have a higher full house.
However, we still have a straight draw and flush draw that give us 15 outs.
You are trying to hit a low straight, which means it may not be the best hand even if you hit it. The player with J-9 or Q-J in his holding will dominate you. The only card that will give you the nuts is 6, but that's only 4 outs or even 3.
If a six of spades or any other spade comes, you will hit a flush. However, in this case, we are talking only about K-high flush with a 10 as the second card. In Omaha, you cannot risk large sums with this hand.
Therefore, in this situation, you have only a marginal hand at best. Remember, when you have a draw in Omaha, that draw must be the nut one. On this flop, you have only three outs for the nuts (aside from the very unlikely runner-runner straight flush or four of a kind).
You don't have to fold this hand, but it is not worth investing a lot of money in the pot with such a draw unless you have good reads on your opponent.
Don’t think the same as Hold’em players do
Stop thinking the same as a Hold'em player does. Many PLO players come from no-limit Hold'em, therefore they apply the same game scheme. They overestimate such hands as one or two pairs as well as a two-way straight draw (with 8 outs), which is considered to be particularly problematic since it is possible to collect a "wrap"-draw with 20 outs in PLO.
After you learn to use the basic strategy rules, you can move on to more advanced strategies of Omaha game. Below you will familiarize yourself with different tactical methods that will help you to increase your winrate. You will learn how to define situations where the combination of your current equity and "backdoor outs" makes the decision to call profitable when you don’t pretend to win the hand. Also, we will talk about reads on opponents and how to distinguish well played hands in heads-up from universal ones.
Well, equity, backdoor outs and winning cards.
In pot-limit Omaha, there are many situations where the pot becomes so large that a player can make a call with a non-winning hand. It is not just a mega-draw such as a wrap + flush-draw, it can be a simple flush-draw in the pot where you have good pot odds.
Frequently, many beginners lose extra-equity on backdoor draws. For example, with a flush-draw + top pair you will have odds for trips or even for runner-runner full-house, you can also have an opportunity to form straight. These extra bonuses can add a percentage to your equity that turns a fold into a call.
Conversely, there are cards that are not "clean" outs. For instance, a situation with the classic flush-draw against the all-in with a set on the flop. The set has outs for a full house (7 on the turn and 10 on the river) that beat your flush. When you have a nut straight, it can be beaten with a flush, also there is an extra risk of cards that create a stronger straight, as well as pairing the board. You need to tinker with Omaha poker calculator in order to get accustomed to such match-ups.
Common mistakes in Omaha
Get acquainted with the following few tips, which will be extremely useful for beginners and will help you to form your own game strategy.
1. Using non-connector starting hands
Always remember that connectors are considered the strongest hands in PLO. The higher your chance to hit the maximum possible number of different combinations, the higher your advantage over the opponents. In Omaha, just one pair is not enough.
Your hand can automatically become garbage even if there is at least one non-connected card in it.
2. Attempts to play non-nut draws
Omaha can be called a game of draw hand. There are always a lot of advantages for such holdings. The problem with weak draws is that you are too vulnerable when playing them.
Play the nut flush draws aggressively, while the flushes with Q or K can be used as a bluff catcher.
Hand reads in PLO
You've already read that in PLO games Aces can cause some problems. There are several ways that can help you to learn to make reads on your opponents’ hands. The main thing is to start with a certain kind of hands and with their strength. You will understand that bet-sizing tells will give you a prompt till flop.
For instance, some players will re-raise only with premium hands and more likely they will raise with a pair or high-card hands instead of call with their weak hands.
After the flop some players will bet every time they have a draw, while others will check and call with not nut (though strong) draw. Attentive observation will help you to get a perception of the opponents’ cards. As soon as you define whether a player has the draw or if he "protects" made-hand from bet-sizing, then the process of making decisions will become much easier.
Universal and heads-up hands
In Omaha, some hands are played better in multi-pots, others demonstrate strength in heads-up. Much stronger rundown hands (preferably paired of the same suit) are examples of universal hands. If you have a high-pair and don’t have a draw as a reserve plan, then you'd better be in the heads-up situation and take the initiative in the betting. If the flop doesn’t suit you and the opponent resists, then you can get rid of high-pair hands. Determining whether your hand is universal or well played hand in heads-up will help you to choose a good preflop betting strategy.
Make sure that you sometimes mix, otherwise watchful opponents will define your type of hand on the basis of your betting style.
To solidify your knowledge, we suggest you watch this video from poker pro Daniel Negreanu:
So, now you know that the strategy of playing Omaha is not difficult. Follow these rules and you will see that positive results will be achieved in a short period of time.
Poker rooms that offer Pot-Limit Omaha
PartyPoker is a good poker room for playing Omaha. You will find here the necessary number of tables according to your limit. In addition, can count on a good rakeback.
PokerStars has a good traffic and excellent software. You can start playing this game format starting from PLO25.
This poker room has a wide variety of PLO games. It also has a soft playing pool and the same opponents, who are not so strong in PLO.
This poker room attracts the new players by the good bonuses and promotions, a wide variety of games, including PLO.